Swiss organization IQ Air recently released its report on World Air Quality for the year 2021 and the national capital of India emerged as the fourth most polluted city in the world.
The report stated that there has been an increase of 14.6% in PM2.5 concentration in the air of Delhi during the past year. The level in 2020 for PM 2.5 was 84 micrograms per cubic meter whereas this level rose to 96.4 micrograms/cubic meter in 2021. The normal standard level of PM2.5 set up by WHO is 5 micrograms per cubic meter. The level found in the air of Delhi is approximately 20 times the standard threshold for the pollutant level.
In the report, Out of 50 most polluted cities, there was a reported number of 35 cities from India only whose standards for PM 2.5 do not match with that of the WHO thresholds. Almost 48% of Indian cities have PM 2.5 levels in the air exceeding 50 micrograms per cubic meter. This is already a reported 10 times increase that the WHO standard.
Bhiwadi (PM 2.5: 106.2 units) and Ghaziabad (PM 2.5: 102 units) are reported to be the most polluted city in the world. They both come under the NCR region of the capital. Other Indian cities mentioned among the top most polluted cities (in brackets PM 2.5 levels in microgram/cubic meters) were: New Delhi (96.4), Jaunpur (95.3), Noida (91.4), Bagpat (89.1), Faridabad (88.9), Greater Noida (87.5), and Rohtak (86.9).
The report stated that since 2020, the air quality has deteriorated in the majority of Indian cities. There has been a soar of PM 2.5 levels by high numbers in the year 2021, namely, Bhiwadi (increase by 9.7 units), Delhi (by 12.3 units), Gurgaon (by 8.1 units), Faridabad (by 5.6 units), and Rohtak (by 12.5 units).
The reasons listed in the report mentioned that vehicle pollution, power generation, cooking combustion, stubble burning, and industrial waste are the main deteriorating factor for the poor air quality in the NCT region of India. Added with that, the lockdown and economic sanctions put down due to pandemics have restricted the government to enact the National Clear Air Programme effectively in the country. The program was expected to reduce PM2.5 pollution by 20-30% by year 2024.